Looks Like Another Crook Has Done Something Stupid
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Member Since : 2007

Looks Like Another Crook Has Done Something Stupid

01-12-2009 10:24:32

(CNN) -- A pilot faked a life-or-death distress call before secretly parachuting out of a small plane that crashed in a swampy area in the Florida Panhandle, investigators said Monday.

The Piper PA-36 crashed near Milton, Florida, but the pilot was spotted in Alabama, authorities say.

The pilot, identified as Marcus Schrenker, 38, later checked in to a hotel in Alabama under a fake name and then put on a black cap and fled into woods, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office in Milton, Florida.

Authorities are searching for the pilot.

The manager of the airport in Indiana from which the six-seat Piper PA-36 took off said that no one else was onboard at takeoff.

CNN's attempts to reach a representative for Schrenker were unsuccessful. The phone number for his financial management business was disconnected, and public records do not list his current home phone number.

Schrenker "appears to have intentionally abandoned the plane after putting it on autopilot over the Birmingham, Alabama, area and parachuting to the ground" Sunday night, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

The plane crashed at 9:15 p.m. CT Sunday in a swampy area of Blackwater River in East Milton, Florida, authorities said. It's unclear what time Schrenker made the earlier distress call. He told air traffic controllers that the window of his plane had imploded and he was bleeding profusely.

That call came in when the aircraft was about 35 miles southwest of Birmingham. Controllers tried to tell the pilot to divert the flight to Pell City, Alabama, but he did not respond. The plane appeared to have been put on autopilot around 2,000 feet, Haines said.

The plane had been scheduled to land in Destin, Florida, authorities said.

After the call came in, military aircraft were dispatched to intercept the plane. The jets spotted the Piper and deployed flares to illuminate the plane as it was flying and noticed that its door was open and the cockpit was dark, according to the Santa Rosa authorities. The jets continued to follow the plane until it crashed. Rescuers searched the area where the plane went down and began a search for the pilot.

Meanwhile, Schrenker reportedly was more than 220 miles north of the crash site.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office got a call at 2:26 a.m. Monday from the Childersburg Police Department in Alabama saying that a white male, identified as Schrenker by his Indiana driver's license, approached a Childersburg officer at a store.

Schrenker, who was wet from the knees down and had no injuries, told the officer that he had been in a canoeing accident with friends, the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Schrenker had goggles that looked like they were made for "flying," according to the release.

The Childersburg police didn't know about the plane crash, so they took Schrenker to a nearby hotel, authorities said. When police found out about the crash, they went back to the hotel and entered Schrenker's room. He was not there, they said.

According to Santa Rosa authorities, Schrenker had checked in under a fake name, paid for his room in cash and "put on a black toboggan cap and ran into the woods located next to the hotel."

Harpersville is 30 minutes east of Birmingham, Alabama, and about 223 miles north of Milton, Florida, near where the wrecked plane was found. iReport.com: Are you near the crash scene? Tell us what you've seen

Public documents list Schrenke as president of an Indianapolis agency called Heritage Wealth Management, but no contact information for that agency was available. The address of the business is the same as the address associated with Schrenker's aircraft in aviation records.

Police in Harpersville told CNN they had no immediate comment. Federal investigators were helping in the probe.

Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said a "detailed review of radar data" and the fact that the plane had switched to autopilot suggested that the pilot might have parachuted.

The corporate plane does not have an ejection feature, said Steve Darlington, the airport manager of the Anderson Municipal Airport in Anderson, Indiana.

Darlington described the pilot as "accomplished" and said he owns "a couple of airplanes" and flies regularly.


Member Since : 2015
01-13-2009 06:05:21
He may have gotten away with it had he skipped the distress call
and programed the Malibu to crash in the Gulf of Mexico.
Where was he going to disappear to?
Obviously he had no new identity planned as he showed his real driver
license to the Alabama cop that gave him a ride to a motel.
Man, was that guy a dumbass or what?

Todays paper reports that he is believed to have pocketed 100s of
thousands from unsuspecting investors.   
Member Since : 2015
01-15-2009 04:02:14
It sure seemed like a plan, but I doubt omitting the distress call would have allowed him to get away with it.  Chances are he kept his cellphone with him, not knowing that it could be "pinged" by the cops, without it even ringing, and showing that it was located at a campsite.  It is a shame he trashed a perfectly good Malibu, and thank goodness it didn't crash in a heavily populated area.
Member Since : 2007
01-15-2009 06:51:13
FYI---had the cops not gotten to him in time, he would have bled to death.  He had a self inflicted stab wound-----he was close to "cashing out".  ::)